Guest Blogger: Stephanie Tama-Sweet, Director, Government Relations


CCOs, ACA, TMSA, etc…

When it comes to talking about health reform, it can easily become a mumbo-jumbo alphabet soup.  So what do all those acronyms mean, anyway – and more importantly – why should we care?

Health is a combination of individual genetics and choice, the environments we live in, and the social and political systems that promote or harm our health options. Regardless of what you may think about the politics surrounding state and federal health reform, there are some key concepts you should know about the upcoming changes. I break them down for you here in (hopefully!) simple A, B, Cs.

A.      Affordable Care Act (ACA) – The ACA refers to federal health care reform. Key components of this law include health coverage expansion to include all legal residents, removal of coverage prohibitions due to pre-existing conditions, and coverage for key preventive benefits like tobacco cessation and management of chronic diseases. The ACA will begin rolling out on January 1st, 2014. For more info visit: www.healthreform.gov

B.      Be active and make healthy choices – Be active each day and invest in your own health!

C.      Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs) – CCOs refer to Oregon’s new health model which is currently focused on low-income Oregonians who are eligible for Medicaid. Beginning on January 1st, 2014, all legal residents of Oregon will be eligible for coverage and tax credits will be available to individuals and families up to 400 % of the Federal Poverty Level ($94,000 for a family of 4). CCOs are tasked with focusing on all aspects of an individual’s health, including prevention and management of chronic diseases. For more info visit: http://www.oregon.gov/oha/ohpb/pages/health-reform/ccos.aspx

D.      Diet – Our diets have a big role in our physical and mental health. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables and whole foods every day!

E.       Exchange – Health Insurance Exchanges are a new central marketplace where individuals and employers can shop for health insurance plans and access financial assistance to help pay for coverage. You can think of it like Priceline.com for health plans. Oregon’s Exchange, called Cover Oregon, will begin open enrollment on October 1st, 2013. http://coveroregon.com/

As always, if you’d like to learn more about any of these reforms or other health policies, please feel free to contact me directly at Stephanie.tama-sweet@heart.org